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The search for a replacement for Donald Trump’s national security advisor, who resigned, or was fired for his part in Russian communications during the election cycle, then lying about subject matter in those communications, continues after Trump’s top pick turns down the White House’s offer.
Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a 40-year veteran, former Navy SEAL, and former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, and commanding general of operations of Joint Special Operations Command, had also served as director of strategy and policy on President GW Bush’s National Security Council.
Following Trump’s Thursday press conference, where Trump informed reporters that the administration had an excellent replacement in mind, Harward told the White House that he was not interested in the position.
When asked if he was interested in the position, Harward told Reince Priebus, the White House Chief of Staff, “Well, let me talk to my wife and family, and we’ll get back to you,” Priebus said.
Harward later contacted the White House and Priebus said of that contact, “He called us and said guess what? I’ve got some support in the family but others aren’t that excited about it. And he then told us that it was something that his family couldn’t go for. But he was honored to be talked to, and it wasn’t going to happen. It was a reasonable thing.”
Harward, who took the position of the Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin-United Arab Emirates after his military retirement, said in a statement, “Since retiring, I have the opportunity to address financial and family issues that would have been challenging in this position. Like all service members understand, and live, this job requires 24 hours a day, 7 days a week focus and commitment to do it right. I currently could not make that commitment. My thoughts and prayers are with those that carry such heavy burdens and responsibility for taking care of our country’s national security concerns. God bless this great country of ours.”
A personal friend of Harward said that Harward did not want the job because of the “chaotic” conditions at the White House, and related that Harward called the offer a “shit sandwich.”
It is thought that Harward and the White House disagreed on key issues. One of those issues, insiders say, was that Harward insisted in bringing in his own staff, but Trump insisted in keeping on Flynn’s deputy, K.T. McFarland, a former Fox News national security analyst.
With Harward’s refusal, White House eyes are now turning to their second choice, retired four-star general, David Petraeus. But, that choice comes with baggage. Petraeus resigned as CIA Director amid scandal in 2012. Petraeus is still on probation for violating laws involving the mishandling of classified information. He was accused of supplying classified information to his biographer, Paula Broadwell, with whom he was having an affair with. He pleaded guilty to that charge in a plea deal.
The plea deal stated that Patraeus had shared “Black Books” that contained “classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings, and defendant David Howell Petraeus’s discussions with the President of the United States of America”.
In the plea deal, Petraeus received two-years probation and a $40,000 fine.
Retired Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg is currently filling in as National Security Advisor as the White House looks for a willing candidate to fill the position. He is the White House’s third choice for the position.